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CRO Conference

Report on the Third Conference of the Cave Rescue Organisation Organisations held at Church Hall, Lion Street, Brecon on Saturday, September 28th 1963.

Our hosts for this conference were the South Wales Caving Club, and the agenda consisted of four main items, the first of which was concerned with the subject of cave accident statistics.

Dr. Evans has put in some interesting work on accident research.  By recording all the particulars of all the accidents he has heard of on punched cards, he has discovered two main causes of such accidents.  Firstly, those due to cavers not using a lifeline - these should be used on any pitch of twenty feet or more and, if the climb is exceptionally difficult, even on climbs of less than twenty feet.  The other main cause was due to equipment deteriorating.  All tackle should be inspected at least once a year, a fact which some clubs did not think of until too late.  A query was raised as to how a rope should be tested.  The answer was to cut it into two foot lengths and inspect every cut. The speaker did not recommend a use for the resulting two foot lifelines!  The main wear on a rope is usually at each end, where it is continually tied and untied, so another suggestion was to cut fifteen feet off each end and keep the middle.

I understand that the South Wales Caving Club has the most complete cave rescue kit in the country. It includes a coffin, should the rescue party fail.

The second item on the agenda concerned the subject of rescues in Ireland.  These are a big problem, since the only Irish cavers are in Northern Ireland and they are not many and have little experience, as yet.  Outside help is hardly practicable due to the cost of chartering a plane (cash in advance).  It is quite probable that the R.A.F. would be unable to help. Certainly they would not land in the republic.  Parties who go to Ireland must therefore go on the understanding that if they get into trouble they must be equipped to deal with it themselves.  They are requested also to contact Brian Baldwin, 29 Norfolk Avenue, Burnley, Lanes before leaving - sending an accurate address where they can be contacted and the total number of cavers in the party. If all parties do this, it will do much to ensure that, in the event of trouble, a rescue party can be on the scene as quickly as possible.  There is a small dump of rescue equipment at Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, and Dr. Lloyd has promised that the M.R.O. will set up a similar one at Ballynalacklan Castle, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Claire.  Should outside help be needed, contact the local Guarda, they have received instructions as to who to contact.  Dr. Lloyd recalled an occasion when some members of the U.B.S.S. got into difficulties and shouted for help, frightening the locals who thought it was the 'little people'!

The third item on the agenda was the formation of a national cave rescue organisation.  There was a lot of discussion on this topic, but no decision was made as there seemed little point in the idea.  It would create many new problems and solve very few existing ones.  We were also given the impression that it would require lots of money that, even if raised, could probably be better spent.

The final item was the reading of the report by the Yorkshire Ramblers on the International Conference in Brussels. Spelio Secours, the Belgian organisation for Cave Rescue, is a national one affiliated to the Red Cross.  It runs a couple of ambulances, and they can reach any part of the country in three hours of an alert.

The long discussion gave us a good appetite for dinner, which was at Perrins Restaurant, just outside Brecon.  Moving about after the meal was thus difficult.  It was a good job that the bar was close handy!  Sunday was miserably wet for the demonstrations, which were held behind the S.W.C.C Headquarters.  The exercise was to blast a new entrance to Weighbridge Cave through a platform of rock.  This was entirely successful.  The afternoon saw a demonstration of a new type of electromagnetic position finder (this has, in fact, been mentioned in the B.B. some time ago - Ed ).  It was placed in Cwm Dwr Cave and its position could be found from the surface by using a detector coil and headphone unit with a high degree of accuracy.

Tony Philpott.